Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Parks and Gardens

Wednesday 12 June 2013

We're parked in the Aire in the village of Villandry in the Loire region, about 20 kilometres south west of Tours.  The Aire doubles as a car park for the Chateau during the day, although there are 50 flat motorhome pitches, so I expect it will empty out a bit when the Chateau closes.

Cathy said there was a minor earthquake last night - the earth moved for her but I didn't notice a thing, although I did dream about being on the top of a really high building that swayed in the wind, so perhaps I did notice it.  We were awake early this morning and heated up some pizza we bought from the market for breakfast.  I know it sounds a bit weird but it was delicious! After topping up water and dumping fluids we left the lovely Ile d'Oleron - we shall certainly return.  It was already sunny and very warm - typical for us to be on the road on the best days!

We had about a 4 hour trip to our next stop at Villandry.  This time we had both sat navs running and checked one against the other.  The Garmin still kept trying to take us through town centres and off onto minor roads, whereas the iPhone couldn't work out which roundabout exit we should take before we were on it. We stopped off at a roadside Aire at about 1230 for a lunch of chicken sandwiches and a brew. We finally arrived at Villandray at about 1445.

The main reason for stopping here overnight was to visit the Gardens of Villandry Chateau, which is about 2 minutes walk from where we're parked. Built around 1536, it's the last of the great chateaux built along the banks of the Loire during the Renaissance.  Through several owners (bet they didn't have to deal with slow, inefficient solicitors when selling on), the 19th Century marked a turning point: the traditional gardens were destroyed to create an English-style park around the castle - looking at the design it must have been done by a local British council 'parks and gardens' workman on a foreigner. The gardens are designed and laid out in a number of different ways: Ornamental, Woods, Water, Sun, Maze, Herb and Vegetable Gardens.  All of them were a bit formal, not really to our taste, but I think in another couple of weeks when the majority of flowers are blooming, it will look much better. We didn't go in the chateau - big walls, pointy turrets, little windows, moat - you get the picture.

It was very warm and sticky today - mid-70s F - with sunny spells and a few clouds and it feels like thunder storm weather.  We decided to eat in today.  We had some chicken left over from yesterday, plus some chorizo, so we cooked up some pasta with plenty of garlic, onions and tomato - I should have taken a few cuttings from the Herb Garden!  I would have liked to get out on the bike but felt really tired after the long drive, so decided to just chill out on my chair under the trees instead, helped by a small aperitif of the Oleron Grimbergen beer, nicely chilled from the fridge!

After dinner we went for a walk around the village.  It's a very still, warm evening, so we strolled around going up little side streets, listening to the birds, having a quiet sit down and moment of reflection by the war memorial.  We also like noseying in the courtyards, gardens and potagers! We also stopped at the primary school noticeboard to read the school lunch menus posted in advance - those children eat really, really well! See the photos below for their menu.  A couple of the old bars and restaurants were still open with one or two people sat outside in the warm air chatting and enjoying a glass of wine.  We walked down to the river Loire, about 400m from the Aire and watched its wide expanse moving slowly downstream from right to left, but the many mozzies soon had us moving on.  It's 2130 as I write, still warm and light, with the local blackbirds singing to protect their territory.

I suspect we'll be up quite early again tomorrow to get to our next destination in time to make some use of the day. We haven't decided where that will be yet, but Monet's Garden in Giverny is about half way between here and Calais.  It's somewhere we've always wanted to visit, but I'll need to check out the local Aires and the travel time to see if it's achievable.  I'd also like to find somewhere to clean the outside of the van - it's filthy and I don't really want to return it like that.

Thought for the Day:  We have a British-owned van conversion parked one van away, which has got us thinking. Our friends have one with a fixed rear double bed, half garage, wet room, decent galley and seating area.  It's winterised with heating and a good sized fridge - and it's about half the size of the one we've rented.  We'll have to do some research, but it looks promising, particularly as we want to explore the Lakes and Cornwall, difficult in a large coach-built motorhome.







Cooking on a wonky pitch!



Aire at Villandry


Used to be men's and women's entrances - which is which?

That's what you call school dinners


No comments:

Post a Comment